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The Ministry of Encouragement Part 3

June 8, 20100 Comments

This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is about the Ministry of Encouragement.

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The Ministry of Encouragement Part 3 from Preaching In Shorts on Vimeo.

In our first two discussions on the Ministry of Encouragement we have talked about discouragement as being the “taking away of some one’s courage” and also as one of the enemy’s chief weapons of warfare. Today I want to broaden the topic of discouragement (so we know what are fighting against) and I want you to consider this:

Discouragement is a Spiritual Heart Attack

With that in mind, we are going to talk about it’s symptoms, it’s cause and it’s treatment.

I. Symptoms

We need to look at the symptoms to determine our own levels of discouragement. Until we are honest with ourselves about dealing with whatever is discouraging us, we will end up being insensitive, intimidating, or negligent because discouragement causes us to be self-focused and selfish instead of other-focused and selfless.

You might be discouraged if:

a. You have little or no hope

b. You tend to overemphasize your imperfections

c. You overreact when you make a mistake

d. You put yourself down

e. You have trouble receiving praise

f. You have no trouble taking in criticism

g. You turn to artificial forms of courage

II. Cause

What is the ultimate cause of discouragement? Let us look at a story from the early history of the Hebrews. During the time that the people of Israel had left Egypt to go to the promised land they became very discouraged.

Numbers 21:4 (KJV)
4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

Once they finally arrived near their destination Moses sent out twelve spies to report on the condition of the promised land.

Deuteronomy 1:19-33 (NIV)
19 Then, as the LORD our God commanded us, we set out from Horeb and went toward the hill country of the Amorites through all that vast and dreadful desert that you have seen, and so we reached Kadesh Barnea. 20 Then I said to you, “You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the LORD our God is giving us. 21 See, the LORD your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” 22 Then all of you came to me and said, “Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.” 23 The idea seemed good to me; so I selected twelve of you, one man from each tribe. 24 They left and went up into the hill country, and came to the Valley of Eshcol and explored it. 25 Taking with them some of the fruit of the land, they brought it down to us and reported, “It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us.” 26 But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. 27 You grumbled in your tents and said, “The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. 28 Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.'” 29 Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. 30 The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31 and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” 32 In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, 33 who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.

Moses identifies the real cause of discouragement in verse 32, “You did not trust in the Lord your God.”

III. Treatment

The treatment for discouragement is to get our focus off of our circumstances and onto the Lord. We have been given some amazing weapons to defeat and overcome discouragement and to help us to change our focus. Here are three of them:

a. faith

Hebrews 11 is known as the faith chapter, and we have studied it together recently. Look at Hebrews 12:1-3 realizing that the “therefore” is referring to the faith chapter.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

b. prayer

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

c. fellowship

Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)
25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

There is a preventative as well. Like taking aspirin for heart attacks. To help prevent spiritual heart attacks, take time every morning to think about five things you are thankful for, and encourage at least two people everyday. And I also want to introduce a new thing I call the encouragement equation. When you encourage two people, three people are encouraged!

U + 2PE = 3PE

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